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A Resting Place


The American mentality is sometimes described as “work hard, play hard.” Who hasn’t heard someone returning from vacation complain, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!” Even when we have opportunities to rest, we often choose to fill our time with more busyness.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. In today’s passage, the writer of Hebrews warns of the danger of falling short of the promise of rest. This language is significant, and it comes from God’s promise to provide a place of rest for Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. Like the land that God promised to give to Israel, we must receive the rest of Christ as a gift.

Also like Israel, we must change our place of residence. Those who enjoy the rest of God are those who have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son (see Col. 1:13). This is more than a change of attitude—it is a change of venue. Those who come to Christ by faith enter a new realm of experience. We occupy a domain of redemption, forgiveness, and empowerment through the Holy Spirit.

Crucially, however, to hear God’s offer of rest through Christ is not the same as taking hold of it. Some people appreciate God’s promise but have yet to take advantage of it. Like those who heard God’s promise to lead Israel into the Land of Promise, we can be attracted to the hope of rest but still harden our hearts and refuse to enter in.

The key is faith. Those who enter this rest must rest from their own works and accept the work that Jesus Christ has done on their behalf. We pursue this rest by relinquishing control and allowing ourselves to be carried along by God’s grace.

Apply the Word

Have you been loitering on the outskirts of God’s promised rest? You are attracted by what you’ve heard, but you have not yet entered in. Perhaps you think this is something you have to accomplish yourself. But God’s promise of rest isn’t an achievement; it is a state of being into which we enter and remain. Only Christ can carry us there.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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